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10 Ways for a Broke Penn Stater to Make Bank

Beyond Penn State’s ever-rising tuition costs, there are so many expenses when it comes to college. You’ve got rent, electricity, heat, cable, internet, parking, and groceries to worry about. And then there are the not-so-essential things that you don’t want to live without. Gym memberships, beer for this weekend, bar tours, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, orange chicken at Panda in the HUB, and all of the gear for your zillions of organizations (can you say “quarter-zip”?) are so tempting, and it’s sad when you’re too strapped for cash to indulge. So here are a few things you can do to help you start your own little “slush fund” that you can use for the aforementioned non-essentials and more.

1. Sell your plasma, obviously. 

This seems to be everyone’s go-to move when their bank account is creeping close to zero, and for good reason. BioLife is a nifty place downtown that offers you cash for your bodily fluids. Creepy, right? If you can spare an hour of your day twice a week, the average pay is $240 a month. They don’t even put it into your bank account – they give you a special little BioLife Visa that is accepted all over town. That way, you can carry it to the bar and even if you hit $0, you won’t dip into your actual bank account at all. Win.

2. Take notes. 

We should all be taking solid notes in class anyway, but that doesn’t mean all of us do. If you don’t believe me, take a look around your next lecture and count how many laptops spend the majority of the time on Facebook (or reading Onward State). For an extra incentive to pay attention in class – and for money – sell your notes to Nittany Notes. You can make around $10 for each day’s notes, which is a solid $30 a week for each class. Easy money for simply being studious, amiright?

3. Be a lab rat. 

By which I mean, allow people to conduct experiments on you. Participating in research studies is seriously helpful. Those conducting the studies need subjects, and you need money, so it’s a nice little symbiotic relationship. What you’ll have to do as a subject can vary. All of the ones that I’ve been involved in consisted of having electrodes stuck all over my head and letting people monitor my brainwaves as I read sentences in Spanish and English — and they’ve paid $10 an hour. However, if you check out the giant list of research studies seeking participants, you’ll see that there are a few that pay significantly more. Especially this one that asks you to eat a probiotic (read: yogurt) for the whole semester so they can test how it affects your digestion – sounds icky, but the pay-off is $400, which is pretty sick. Plus, free yogurt. (Oh, and apparently Smeal does experiments, too.)

4. Babysit. 

I think we forget that State College is an ACTUAL town outside of being Penn State students’ stomping grounds. There are real live families all over the place here, and they’ve got kids who need to be taken care of. Check out the positions available on Craigslist and you could be making crazy dough just by helping pre-teens with their homework and making them dinner a few nights a week. (You can also check out what other services people are seeking, but proceed with caution, because things get really sketchy really quickly on Craigslist).

5. Dogsit. 

If you’re not the touchy-feely, “OMG I LOVE BABIES AND CHILDREN” type, check out Craigslist listings for people who need dog walkers or dog sitters. Or make up your own dogsitting flyers and post them downtown, if you’re desperate.

6. Sell your crap. 

Listen, we’ve all got a lot of crap lying around, and most of us don’t use half of it. Instead of letting it sit around and collect dust, sell it! The Attic (downtown) and Plato’s Closet (on Atherton, towards Walmart) will both give you money for your unwanted clothes and goods. How much money is debatable, but it’s more than no money, so it’s a solid option for the frighteningly broke.

7. Recycle. 

By the end of the weekend, our apartment is pretty much overflowing with glass bottles and aluminum cans and even big plastic jugs (thank you, Vladimir). Usually, we just take them down to the recycling area behind our building. But if we were feeling ambitious, we could take all of that recycling to the Centre County Recycling Center and make some decent pocket money. If you’re feeling generous (and broke), offer to take the recycling your neighbors’ recycling along, too. It adds up quickly. Plus your neighbors will like you more AND you’ll be saving the earth. Win-win-win.

8. Sell your textbooks. 

Not to the Student Bookstore; dear god, you wouldn’t get a cent. But if you put them up on Amazon at a reasonable price, or if you post them on Penn State’s Free & For Sale page on Facebook, some desperate freshman is bound to snatch it up. Better than having your English 15 book sit around your room for the rest of eternity.

9. DD. 

People don’t want to drink and drive (besides, there’s nowhere to park downtown). People don’t want to take the drunk bus. And people don’t want to not go out. If you’re broke and reading this post, you probably don’t have the money to be going out or buying booze anyway, so offer to be the Designated Driver for a group of your friends who are going out in exchange for a few bucks from each of them. They’ll be so grateful that they don’t have to pay for a taxi or try to flag down the Lion Chariot guy that they’ll be excited to have a sure, safe way to get home.

10. Tutor. 

Whether you do this privately or through something like LionTutors, students are willing to pay a ton for tutoring right before big exams after they’ve spent the past few weeks of class asleep or on BuzzFeed. It’s also a great way for you to review the material yourself, and to add a line to your resume. But mostly it’s an easy way to make money.

Did we miss any other easy ways to make a quick buck in State College? Let us know in the comments.

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About the Author

Alicia Thomas

Alicia is a senior with majors in Print Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Chances are that she's somewhere talking about her semester abroad or ranting about sexual assault prevention right now. She can be reached via Twitter (@aliciarthomas) or email ([email protected]).

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